Ever Wonder How to Read Your Electrical Meter in Ottawa?

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Check out this article on meter reading if you think your Hydro bill might be higher then it should be.  For a FREE quote on how you can lower your electricity bill call Ring Electric at (613)299-8239.  Why pay more if you do not have to.


Meter Reading

There are several types of electricity meters that in the end do the same thing: measure the electricity used in your home or business.

All electrical services are measured for energy consumption, also referred to as kilowatt-hours (kWh), using a kilowatt-hour meter, which either looks like a car odometer or a series of dials. Larger commercial customers are measured for the power capacity or demand in kilowatt (kW) or kilovolt-ampere (kVA) units, using a meter that looks like a car speedometer, called a demand meter. An electronic meter may be installed which has a scrolling digital display which would show all three quantities, kWh, kW and kVA.

By law, according to the “Electricity and Gas Inspection Act”, it is mandatory that these meters be accurate and stay accurate while measuring your electricity use for billing purposes. That is why meters go through at least two accuracy checks during their life:

  1. First, Measurement Canada, a federal government agency, tests the manufacturer’s prototype meter for performance, reliability and accuracy and approves the meter design if it passes the type approval.
  2. Second, each meter used for billing purposes is verified and sealed by the government or Measurement Canada accredited meter service centre such as Hydro Ottawa, before it is put into service.

When your electricity bill seems high, stop and think of the reasons why. Maybe more energy was used because of, for example, a new baby in the family, more people staying with you, a cold snap causing your heating system to work overtime, a heat wave causing your cooling system to work overtime, you added an appliance, or a hot water tap was leaking and draining your electric water heater. Also, if your bill is estimated, maybe the estimate does not reflect your true usage and all you need to do is read the meter — we’ll show you how.

How it Works

The kilowatt-hour meter is designed to reliably, and accurately measure the electrical energy (kWh) used in your home or place of business.

When you look at the face of a kilowatt-hour meter, across the middle you will see a metal horizontal disc that turns when energy is being used. This disc is designed to turn like a motor wheel when energy passes through the meter, and it is calibrated so that one rotation of the disc corresponds to a specific number of kilowatt-hours. This means that depending on the meter make or type, one meter may spin twice as fast as another to register the same kilowatt-hours.

In any case, the disc will turn faster when more energy is used; you can really notice the difference in disc speed when, for example, a refrigerator or a heating unit turns on and off. With dial type meters, also known as the clock type, when the disk rotates it turns a series of gears to successively move the pointers on the dials. Each dial turns in the opposite direction to the one next to it. Similarly, with the old digital type meters, the disc turns a series of gears to successively move the digit wheel (cyclometer); however, unlike the dial type, each digit wheel rotates in the same direction. Each wheel or dial is numbered all the way around from “0” to “9”.

When you are looking at the face of the meter, the first dial (or wheel) on the right must go around once before the pointer (or digit) on the dial immediately to its left (the second dial), moves to the next digit. The first dial has to go around ten times before the second dial goes around once. When the first dial has gone around 100 times, the second dial would have gone around 10 times, and the third dial’s pointer would have only moved to the next digit. This goes on and on, adding up the energy used until the meter eventually starts back at zero like an odometer on a car. The difference between two meter readings is the amount of energy (kilowatt-hours) used.

The kilowatt meter and kilovolt-ampere meter measure the power (demand) delivered to the facility being metered averaged over a short duration of time. These facilities are larger users of power than residential or small commercial energy users.

The demand meter looks like a speedometer on a car, but with two pointers. The red pointer moves up and down the scale depending on how fast the energy is being used (the demand). As the red pointer moves up the scale, it pushes the black pointer with it, leaving it behind to mark the highest usage measured before moving down the scale. The black pointer is reset to zero by the utility meter reader after each monthly reading, and the cycle goes on. More often than not, the kilowatt-hour meter and the demand meter are combined into one meter, like the one shown here.

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